BOOT CAMP 235 (23/07/02)
SHAREWARE TOP TENS – Part 1
Old Faithfuls and Must-Haves
Shareware and freeware can be a difficult concept for
newcomers to computing to grasp. Computer hardware and software can be expensive
and everyone in the industry is there to make money, so what’s the idea behind
companies and individuals giving away software; what’s the catch?
In most cases there isn’t one, shareware and freeware is
cheap or free because the authors and publishers mostly distribute their
products over the Internet, avoiding the high costs of packaging, marketing and
Shareware is simply a way of letting you try before you buy.
For the most part it is professionally written, fully functional software that
you can use on your computer, usually for a limited time – typically 30-days –
and if you find it useful and want to continue using it you should pay the
usually modest licence fee. Some shareware will be automatically disabled after
the trial period, others continue to function, displaying the occasional ‘nag’
screen, reminding you to pay up, and it is only fair to do so!
Freeware is entirely free. Many programs are fairly
specialised tools or utilities written and distributed by altruistic
individuals, to fill a gap or meet a need left by a commercial operating system
or application. Some freeware is condensed or ‘lite’ versions of larger
applications, designed to tempt you to upgrade to the full version and some
programs are subsidised by advertising so you may find ‘banners’ popping up when
you open the program. This is often a small price to pay for a genuinely useful
piece of software. Unfortunately some freeware is spiked with ‘adware’ and
‘spyware’ programs that can mess up your browser settings or report back on your
Internet activities, as far as we know none of the programs listed here contain
any of those undesirable components.
We’ll begin this short series of shareware and freeware ‘Top
Tens’ with a selection of programs and utilities that quite simply no Windows PC
should be without!
WINZIP, shareware, 1.7Mb, Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP, www.winzip.com
This should be one of the first programs that you load on to
your PC. You will need WinZip to download and extract many of the other programs
we’ll be looking at in this series. A high proportion of freeware and software
programs are ‘zipped’ or compressed to make them easier and faster to send over
the Internet. WinZip automatically decompresses most commonly used file formats
and it also gives you the opportunity to see what the program contains before
extraction, so you can view Readme files and so on. WinZip can also compress
large files on your PC, to fit them onto floppy discs or simply to save space.
It is very easy to use and works faultlessly with all versions of Windows.
AVG ANTIVIRUS, freeware, 5.2Mb, Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP, http://www.grisoft.com
If you haven’t got an anti virus program on your PC this
should be you next port of call. AVG is of the best virus scanners available,
comparable in performance with many commercial offerings. Scans and updates can
be automatically scheduled and it offers a very high degree of protection from
contamination from viruses hidden in downloads, web sites and emails.
ZONEALARM, freeware, 2.78Mb, Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP, http://www.zonelabs.com/
Now you’re protected against viruses you need to guard
against hackers and Trojans, which are becoming a real threat, especially if
you’ve got an ‘always-on’ or broadband connection. ZoneAlarm is a sophisticated
Firewall program that blocks attempts at hacking into your PC, to read files,
load spyware programs or steal passwords. It is simple to configure, it warns
you of any hack attacks and asks you for permission before any program on your
computer is allowed to access the net.
SPIDER, freeware, 350kb,Windows 9x, http://www.fsm.nl/ward/
Did you know that Windows secretly records the address of
every web site you’ve ever visited and hides it away inside a protected file
that cannot be seen or deleted? Spider tracks down and deletes these hidden
files, keeping you safe from snoopers.
ADOBE ACROBAT, freeware, Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP, www.adobe.com
Acrobat is a ‘viewer’ program for PDFs (portable document
file). This is a universal file format used to encode illustrated documents and
product manuals contained on many web sites and CD-ROMs.
ACDSEE, shareware, 10.8Mb, Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP, http://www.acdsystems.com/
ACDsee is one of the simplest and most versatile image and
graphic file viewers available. The current version can display over 50
different picture and multimedia file formats, it can create full-screen
slideshows and contains a number of powerful image editing tools.
ADAWARE, freeware, 872kb, Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP, http://www.lavasoftusa.com/
Merely by visiting some web sites you can unwittingly
download adware and spyware programs that can be a potential security hazard or
at best an invasion of privacy. Running AdAware at least once a week is a quick
and simple way of keeping your PC free of snoopers, and other nasties. The
chances are you are already been infected, so don’t delay!
RJH EXTENSIONS, freeware, 627kb, Windows 9x/NT/2000, http://www.rjhsoftware.com/rjhextensions/
This simple little utility solves a lot of problems by adding
a number of very useful features to the right-click menu in Windows Explorer,
including, file print, duplicate, shred and encrypt.
TWEAK UI, freeware, 64/565kb (Win9x/XP), Windows
Windows 9x/NT/2000: http://www.microsoft.com/ntworkstation/
Developed by Microsoft and part of the PowerToys suite of
tools and utilities that can be used to make changes to the way Windows looks
WINAMP, freeware, 1.97Mb, Windows 9x/NT/2000/XP, http://www.winamp.com/
The best alternative to Windows own Media Player and allows
you to play a very wide range of music and multimedia files, from MP3s to audio
CDs. Highly customisable and easy to use with lots of advanced features.
Next week – Shareware Top Tens part 2
technique used to reduce the size of a file, making it smaller, more manageable
and faster to download.
Picture Experts Group audio layer 3 -- digital audio compression system commonly
used to send files containing audio and music over the
Program on a PC that allows hackers unauthorised access to
files whilst you are on line
All work and no
play… This week’s bonus program should be of interest to both armchair
astronomers and serious stargazers. Winstars is a sophisticated desktop
planetarium that generates a highly detailed view of the sky, based on up to
date astronomical catalogues, showing stars, planets, constellations, nebulae
and even comets for almost any location on Earth, and at any time from September
1752 to December 31 in the year 9999.